It is therefore in Reformed thinking alone that we may expect to find anything like a consistently Christian philosophy of history. Romanism and Arminianism have virtually allowed that God’s counsel need not always and everywhere be taken as our principle of individuation. This is to give license to would-be autonomous man, permitting him to interpret reality apart from God. Reformed thinking, in contrast with this, has taken the doctrine of total depravity seriously. It knows that he who is dead in trespasses and sins lives in the valley of the blind, while yet he insists that he alone dwells in the light. It knows that the natural man receives not the things of God, whether in the field of science or in the field of religion. The Reformed believer knows that he himself has been taken out of a world of misinterpretation and placed in the world of truth by the initiative of God. He has had his own interpretation challenged at every point and is ready now, in obedience to God, to challenge the thinking and acting of sinful man at every place. He marvels that God has borne with him in his God-ignoring and therefore God-insulting endeavors in the field of philosophy and science as well as in the field of religion. He therefore feels compelled to challenge the interpretation the non-Christian gives, not merely of religion but of all other things as well.
– Cornelius Van Til, Common Grace and the Gospel p.12-13
Following on from The Foundation of Historical Apologetics:
“In addition to showing that Christ actually arose from the grave and that the facts recorded in the Scripture are as they are recorded as being, insofar as this can be ascertained by historical research, we must show that the philosophy of fact as held to by Christian theism is the only philosophy that can account for the facts. And these two things must be done in conjunction with one another. Historical apologetics becomes genuinely fruitful only if it is conjoined with philosophical apologetics. And the two together will have to begin with Scripture, and argue that unless what Scripture says about itself and all things else of which it speaks is true, nothing is true. Unless God as an absolutely self-conscious person exists, no facts have any meaning. This holds not only for the resurrection of Christ, but for any other fact as well.”
– Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology p.242-243
Calvin makes a sharp distinction between the revelation of God to man and man’s response to that revelation. This implies the rejection of a natural theology such as Aquinas taught.
He makes a sharp distinction between the responses to God’s revelation made by:
(a) man in his original condition, i.e., Adam before the Fall;
(b) mankind, whose “understanding is subjected to blindness and the heart to depravity” (Inst. II.i.9)
(c) those that are “taught of Christ” through Scripture and whose eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit.
– Cornelius Van Til, The Reformed Pastor and the Defense of Christianity & My Credo p.24
Historical apologetics is absolutely necessary and indispensable to point out that Christ arose from the grave, etc. But as long as historical apologetics works on a supposedly neutral basis it defeats its own purpose. For in that case it virtually grants the validity of the metaphysical assumptions of the unbeliever. So in this case, a pragmatist may accept the resurrection of Christ as a fact without accepting the conclusion that Christ is the Son of God. And on his assumptions he is not illogical in doing so. On the contrary, if his basic metaphysical assumption to the effect that all reality is subject to chance is right, he is only consistent if he refuses to conclude from the fact of Christ’s resurrection that he is divine in the orthodox sense of the term. Now, though he is wrong in his metaphysical assumption, and though, rightly interpreted, the resurrection of Christ assuredly proves the divinity of Christ, we must attack him in his philosophy of fact, as well as on the question of the actuality of the facts themselves. For on his own metaphysical assumptions the resurrection of Christ would not prove his divinity at all.
– Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology p.242
We should see exactly what is meant by the perspicuity of Scripture. It means that no human interpreter needs come between the Scriptures and those to whom it comes. It is opposed to clericalism. This does not mean that men who place themselves with us under the Scriptures, and who are ordained of God for the preaching of the Word, cannot be of service to us in the better understanding of Scripture. The perspicuity of Scripture is perfectly consistent with the Protestant teaching with respect to the task of the preachers of the Word, but it is directed against the Roman Catholic notion that no ordinary member of the Church may interpret Scripture for himself directly. The doctrine should therefore be definitely maintained against Romanism.
Perspicuity does not mean that every portion is equally easy to be understood. It means that with ordinary intelligence any person can obtain, without the intervention of priests, the main point of the things he needs to know.
“Fundamentalism” has sometimes abused this doctrine. Under the slogan of going back to the Bible, it often ignores the great insight into the truth of the Bible that the Church has already obtained in the generations past. This insight has been deposited in the creeds of the church. He who ignores the creeds under the slogan of going to the Bible does despite to the Spirit who has led the church into all truth.
– Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology p.226-227
It is a pity that so many people celebrate Christmas without getting any real benefit out of it. And why do they not get the proper benefit?
Because they do not correctly connect the cradle of Jesus with the grave of Jesus. Jesus came into the cradle in order that He might go into and come out of the grave. The manger without the empty tomb would be the saddest farce upon a sad-mad race.
– Cornelius Van Til, The Cradle and the Grave (From: Sermons and Addresses of Cornelius Van Til)
No human being can escape making an assumption about the nature of possibility at the outset of his investigation. All men have a priori assumptions in terms of which they approach the facts that confront them. The Christian frankly admits that his a priori is the assumption of the existence of the ontological Trinity, the temporal fiat creation of the universe, and man’s creation in the image of God. The non-Christian has a different sort of a priori. Every non-Christian has an a priori. And the a priori of every non-Christian is different, radically different, from that of the Christian.
– Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology p.198
Dr. Albertus Pieters, when speaking on “Science and the Bible” says:
“The question of miracles lies outside the subject we propose to discuss in this paper, for the reason that modern science and the Bible are obviously entirely in harmony on that subject. The only thing that science can say about a real miracle, like the Virgin Birth or Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, is that it is impossible under the laws of nature; and this statement is made by the Christian with no less emphasis than by the scientist.”
Here it is forgotten that, though both the modern scientist and the Christian speak of and believe in natural law, they do not both mean the same thing by that term. The Christian thinks of natural law as God’s mode of operation of the facts in the created universe. God temporarily sets aside these laws, when he works miraculously. In contrast to this the scientist today conceives of natural law as a method of operation of the facts of the universe that somehow exists in its own right and by its own power. A “miracle” occurring in relation to this would be no more than once chance fact occurring in relation to other chance facts. In short, there is nothing but formal agreement between the scientist and the Christian on the question of miracle. The failure to see this has resulted in great damage. And all this has come about only because men have not clearly seen that special revelation is necessary to teach us the truth about creation as well as about salvation. In this way we arrive at false notions of salvation itself.
– Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology p.196
To say that Scripture testifies to itself and therefore identifies itself is to imply that it also identifies every fact in the world. That is to say the God of which the Scriptures speak is the God who makes the facts to be what they are. There can therefore be no fact which is ultimately out of accord with the system of truth set forth in Scripture. Every fact in the universe is what it is just because of the place that it has in this system.
Moreover, to say that every fact in the world is what it is because of its place in the system of truth set forth in Scripture, is to establish the legitimacy of the Christian principle of discontinuity. The system of truth set forth in Scripture cannot be fully understood by the creature. The point here is not merely that creatures who are sinners are unwilling to believe the truth. The point is further that man as finite cannot understand God his Maker in an exhaustive manner. As he cannot understand God exhaustively, so he cannot understand anything related to God in an exhaustive way, for to understand it we would have to penetrate its relation to God and to penetrate that relation we would have to understand God exhaustively.
– Cornelius Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge p.35-36